Joni Mitchell Offers Health Update at Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony
"I've had to come back several times from things. And this last one was a real whopper. But, you know, I'm hobbling along but I'm doing all right!"
Published Dec 06, 2021Joni Mitchell is a Canadian treasure, but she's a pretty big deal stateside too — this weekend, the iconic songwriter appeared in person at the White House to become one of the first Canadians to accept a Kennedy Center Honors award, presented by Joe Biden.
While there, Mitchell gave a rare public update on her health after suffering an aneurysm in 2015 that left her temporarily unable to speak or walk.
"I always think that polio was a rehearsal for the rest of my life," she said, referring to her diagnosis at age nine. "I've had to come back several times from things. And this last one was a real whopper. But, you know, I'm hobbling along but I'm doing all right!"
She went on to call the award "a fantastic honour" before signing off with "enjoy yourselves, I'm gonna go back and sit down!"
In a 2020 interview with The Guardian for her archival release Joni Mitchell Archives Vol 1: The Early Years (1963-1967), Mitchell said at the time that she was "just inching my way along. I'm showing slow improvement but moving forward … the aneurysm took away a lot more [than polio], really. Took away my speech and my ability to walk. And, you know, I got my speech back quickly, but the walking I'm still struggling with. But I mean, I'm a fighter. I've got Irish blood!"
Mitchell's last album was 2007's Shine — which is great, and features an all-time Joni song in "Hana" — and she's spent the last few years releasing a string of archival compilation albums.
This year's fellow Kennedy Center Honors recipients included fellow Canadian and SNL founder Lorne Michaels, singer Bette Midler and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy.
Revisit "Hana" below, 'cause why not?